Changelog During Application Development

Changelog During Application Development

During software development, the IT team needs to maintain a changelog that tracks the software’s progress. A changelog is a file that contains a chronological order of notable changes for every version of the software.  Having a reference point makes it easier for other users and developers to see what changes have been made to different releases or versions of the software.

Log Requirements and Audit Practices

Development teams often present the following information as documentation of changes during software development:

  • Table of contents
  • The agenda of the software
  • A version number to indicate the implemented changes
  • Improvements or extensions of existing versions 
  • Bug fixes
  • Notes regarding the implementation of new features
  • Screenshots that are used as a reference point for innovation and improvement in the source code

Here is an example of a typical changelog:

### Added

- pause breaks when screen is locked (Windows, macOS)

## [0.20.1] - 2019-07-14

### Added

- clicking on settings file location will open it

- ability to copy debug info to clipboard

- Added Lithuanian language

### Fixed

- auto hide menu bar in app's windows

- break window not always shown on top of other windows (for Windows OS)

## [0.20.0] - 2019-07-02

### Fixed

- workaround multiple screens and fullscreen (macOS)

- tray icon size on Linux

- problem with Window missing when resetting settings to defaults 

Benefits of maintaining the changelog

Troubleshooting and debugging errors in the source code are an integral part of software development. Therefore, project managers make it compulsory to maintain the changelog because of these three benefits:

  1. Every member stays on the same page
    Typically, a software development team consists of numerous people who work on the same project. This makes it difficult to stay updated with the changes made to the source code. A changelog can represent the current state of your code while keeping every member of your team updated with the changes made to different versions.
  2. Developers can easily debug errors
    Production bugs are common during development, even when the developer tries their best. Since it’s crucial to have a good debugging strategy,  you can easily check the changes in the last release and identify the root cause if you have a well-maintained changelog.
  3. Insight into project data
    A changelog represents a history of your source code; you can add timestamps to distinguish code changes that occurred throughout the project. You can gain valuable insights from changelogs and track your project’s productivity. Matrics like bugs to features ratio can give developers an idea of their project’s health.

Organizations can store their changelog in different formats; it can be a flat or nested list,  table, or document of changes. Your objective for changelog defines its form; for example, if you want to use it for internal logging, the changes need to be displayed as a list or table. Similarly, if you want to use a change log to inform your users about new features or improvements, you can display it as a document. 

Audit logs

For secure software, simply logging the changes is not enough; you must ensure its integrity and usability. After setting up a monitoring program and security controls, you need to create an audit log to prove that you include data security at every stage of the software development lifecycle. An Audit trail will help you improve your security stars as attackers constantly look for new ways to inject malicious content into your software. 

Audit logs each to include the following elements:

  • User ID 
  • Terminal ID 
  • User login timestamp 
  • Nature of access to systems, applications, and data 
  • Type of files accessed by the user 
  • Network usage 
  • Changes to system configuration 
  • Usage of system utilities
  • Exceptions

Audit logs help the security team to reconstruct events if they encounter a problem. The security administrator uses the documentation to evaluate a rapid response to the intrusion. Having a well-maintained audit log will help you with: 

  1. Forensics evidence
    If your organization is served with a lawsuit, you can use your audit log as evidence to show that you have implemented the appropriate event management technique.
  2. Threat detection
    By connecting your audit logs to a real-time tracking system, you can review them to gain insights into abnormal behavior.
  3. SOC reporting
    If your organization operates as a vendor, you can use audit logs to prove your security accountability and comply with all corporate vendor management regulations.

Three best practices for audit logging

Here are three best practices your organization can consider for audit logging:

  1. Fail-safe configuration:Since logs contain sensitive data, you need to ensure that malicious actors cannot get access and figure out how you manage your security. Therefore, organizations must create and maintain a secure log management infrastructure as recommended by NIST.

    Your audit logging system must be fail-safe during configuration because it focuses on access control logging. A fail-safe configuration protects other system components through an external bypass switch device, which can be activated or deactivated by the IT staff to remove it from the network during updates temporarily.
  2. Read-only logs: Organizations must privatize log management to enable Data integrity. After establishing goals according to regulations, you must create internal policies while focusing on retention to reduce risk.

    Firewalls can help you mitigate external threats, but you must also protect your audit logs from internal actors. Therefore you can ensure Data integrity by using read-only files that cannot be tempered.
  3. Dual-purpose audit logging system: Establishing policies and procedures that follow logging standards can incorporate log monitoring across your organization more efficiently. Audit logs can track two types of information:  you can track access to your software and enable continuous monitoring to ensure compliance with regulations.

    Therefore, an audit logging system that serves dual purposes can reduce the time required to monitor access controls while increasing security and compliance. Managing audit information from a single location process in detecting real-time risks and continuous monitoring while documenting your development progress and changes.

Conclusion

A changelog is a log that chronologically documents notable changes for every version of the software. It helps a development team see what changes have been made. Here, we’ve discussed how to create and maintain a changelog, as well as some of the best auditing practices. Be sure to see our other application security articles for all your software development needs.